The 'Creative Economy' concept was introduced by BusinessWeek in August 2000. In 2002, Richard Florida’s book 'The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life' was published. Since then, interest in the phenomenon of creativity has acquired a global scale — in the face of severe challenges, the topic of creative thinking has become irresistible. Millions of people have wanted to unleash their creative potential in order to become part of the 'creative class' to more effectively address global issues.
Another milestone was passed in 2010, when the subject of Neuroscience of Creativity had become the agenda of the most advanced scientific centers in the USA, Europe, Israel, China. With time, the cognitive neuroscience of design creativity has become a pivot topic of many leading design thinking schools.
But what's next?
Below, we share our vision on the long term perspectives for the Creative Economy, in general, and areas related to New Product Development and Futures Research, in particular. Hopefully, some provocativeness of these ideas may stimulate discussion.
As usual, 'the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed'.
(1) The end of the Economy of Creativity?
Twenty years of pervasive creativity are coming to an end. Not least because humanity, by and large, failed to cope with “creativity” in the sense it was articulated: as something which can be grabbed to beat competitors and sell more. Let’s be honest.
WHAT IF: licensing new product developers to master design ethics, moral impacts (and awareness of 'the darker side of design') will significantly restrict entry into the profession.
Just as it has been for a long time, for example, in medicine, where medical students must take the Hippocratic Oath “First, do no harm”. We can see rising voices from concerned technologists with the pledge of ethics to become a shared industry commitment. See, for example 'Future Ethics' by designer and futurist Cennydd Bowles.
*Today, well-established innovation centers are trying to take the initiative in the area of design ethics into their own hands, including through an appeal to Eastern philosophical traditions. One of the leaders here is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on the basis of which The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values was created.
**Tomorrow, as the relevance of the topic develops, centers for the deepening of design ethics issues will appear in other regions of the world, — with different traditions. Russian culture whose identity is based on the collective Weltanschauung with deep roots in history may play a key role, when the public goods are on stake.
(2) Megatrend in the industry of forecast.
The forecasting industry, like any other, has its own “megatrends” — pathways of long-term development.
WHAT IF: foresight and trend watching will shift from forecasting “windows of opportunity” for increasing organizations' competitiveness to assessing and preventing civilizational threats and risks that 'innovation' may cause.
We noticed that last year has become the pivotal moment for many trend watching agencies which started raising such issues much more actively then before.
*Today, the set of 'future intelligence' skills is mostly bounded to the competences of corporate and organizational foresight, as well as trend watching, as the strategic tools, contributing to integrating technology with market forecasting and creating agile and adaptive organizations.
**Tomorrow, the need for other kind of qualifications will be increasing, namely —the competence for forecasting all kinds of risks: human, societal, ecological, etc. In this sense, the activities of the Cambridge Center for the Study of Existential Risks might be indicative. Further advancements in this direction will require a mastery of system thinking: understanding the nature of 'complexity', 'emergence', 'chaos', 'self-organization', — all that we, as humanity, have learnt from non-linear non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
(3) Globally developed 'images of the future'.
In the long-term perspective, we can expect a serious change in the idea of the 'organization' itself. When the age of transparency is coming into its own, to maintain organizational boundaries closed will be extremely challenging.
WHAT IF: future's sense-making in the form of images and scenarios will be produced not by particular organizations individually, but as a result of the globally developed foresight.
Making an individual sense of what is going on in the world is no more possible. Even for big corporations. But this can be done collectively. Thus, in terms of future understanding, we slowly move from 'the collective unconscious' to ' global consciousness'.
*Today, the skill of creating ‘images of the future’ is almost completely absent — both at the individual, and corporate level. There only are a few global players, including really big organizations which have their own foresight and trend scanning systems. The demand to launch and maintain their own trend-watching systems among companies has been accelerated as part of the 2020’s uncertainties, and will grow exponentially in the nearest several years.
**Tomorrow, we can expect that individual foresight systems will not be able to cope with the information overload and a more 'distributed' future thinking will take place. This means future intelligence overcomes corporate boundaries and becomes part of the global threat and risk assessment system.
In a recently issued academic paper '50 Years of corporate and organizational foresight: Looking back and going forward', published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of 'Technology Forecasting & Social Change', we can find the first signs of such a transformation. When future research avenues in the corporate and organization foresight are explored — the concepts of 'networked' and 'open foresight' applied across organizations are mentioned:
More recently, the term 'open foresight' has been used to describe foresight exercises in which different organizations engage in collective sense-making, with the aim of pursuing innovation and business opportunities (e.g., Gattringer et al., 2017; Wiener, 2017; Zeng et al., 2019).
However, these are only the first steps, which over time are transformed into a more balanced system of globally developed foresight in the form of collective cognition aimed at assessing and preventing existential risks.
(4) Using creative techniques to better know not your client, but… yourself.
Since the Economy of Creativity conquered the world, a great number of frameworks aimed at solving 'wicked problems' has widely penetrated into organizations: from the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving ('TRIZ') to 'design thinking', 'lean startup' and many other variations.
WHAT IF: frameworks designed to identify and tackle unmet customer needs, will be reframed to focus on tacit knowledge of designer, developer, researcher about him/herself?
In science and philosophy, we have been moving through different paradigms. The upcoming paradigm will more and more integrate the subject itself — the observer. Which means, asking a question, we need to consider the nature and quality of the asker herself. Be it science, or business.
*Today, different 'human-centric' tools are applied to create a competitive advantage, especially in VUCA environments. We have learnt a lot about people’s behaviour, their needs, deep motivation and drivers, and how our target audience can be segmented to offer it what it wants. Even before they realized it. But are we sure if ‘giving people what they want’ is the best way to cope with the global crisis?
**Tomorrow, the primary goal of organizations will be to help their ‘staff’ to consciously learn more about themselves: about their strengths and weaknesses. Self-knowledge will become a society’s driver, but this will be motivated not so much by business issues, as, first of all, by moral and ethical strive. Thus, methods of heuristic search will be mostly applied to overcome cognitive traps, emotional pitfalls and short-term thinking of 'employees' themselves. Without linking to KPIs and 'effectiveness'.
We will see more and more signs of this deep transformation. I found it synchronistic that well-known in user experience Nielsen Norman Group shared early in January results of their project focused on how design practitioners can better understand their own learning process: 'Design Thinking: The Learner’s Journey'.
But these are the very first steps of a long journey with the only aim: to help us understand a bit more about the phenomenon of ‘human consciousness’. And, finally, about ourselves.
All of the points above are parts of the anthropological shift that awaits us in the 21st century. At the heart of the shift is a fundamental return to the existential question of what 'human' is: a rethinking of the problem of human consciousness and the concept of the 'Self'. One of the key civilization topics will become the problem of the “consciousness hygiene”. Today, a dialogue between neurosciences and Buddhism is rapidly developing in this direction. However, the promising development of these issues will depend on how effectively will be integrated into scientific knowledge other “worldviews”. Primarily, Christianity.
Русскоязычная версия статьи “20 лет 'Экономике креативности и инноваций'. Что дальше?”